Rock guitarist inspires rock hounds

One perk of discovering a new species is being able to name it. A trio of paleontologists that has identified a new dinosaur from Madagascar named their find after singer-songwriter Mark Knopfler, guitarist and cofounder of the rock group Dire Straits. Details of Masiakasaurus knopfleri were fleshed out in the Jan. 25 Nature. The 1.8-meter-long predator had a profile like no other dinosaur because the foremost of its lower teeth grew almost horizontally (SN: 11/11/00, p. 317), says team member Scott D. Sampson of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Knopfler earned the honor for two reasons. Not only did team members dig his music while they dug for fossils in the African heat, they seemed to uncover more bones when listening to Knopfler’s tunes, Sampson says. The dinosaur’s genus name, Masiakasaurus, translates as vicious lizard.

2000 Bill Parsons